Chef Sean Raspberry of Bel Air, Md. has joined the St. Michaels Community Center in a new role leading SMCC’s expanding culinary programs. Chef Raspberry comes to the St. Michaels Community Center as part of his return to the Eastern Shore, where many may remember him through his work at the Inn at Perry Cabin, Harrison’s Harbour Lights, Bistro St. Michaels, and Out of the Fire.
Raspberry is responsible for creating healthful, nutritious menus for SMCC’s Community Café, which serves eat-in and take-out meals during select hours each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He’ll also be working with local chefs and food distribution programs to coordinate food donations, including fresh produce and cooked dishes.
“We are fortunate to have Sean back on the Shore and at the Community Center,” said SMCC Executive Director Patrick Rofe. “His knowledge, relationships, and talents will help lead our future culinary programming while bringing more fresh, nutritious meals to our community and the people we serve.”
Rofe says SMCC has recently given its Café a fresh look with new branding and a new menu featuring fresh salads and entrees. The Community Cafe was previously run by St. Michaels resident Jeannie Butler, with her service spanning more than four years.
One of Raspberry’s early responsibilities includes receiving food donations from St. Vincent de Paul in Easton, Md. each Monday and Friday.
“It’s like Christmas morning every Monday and Friday, and I’m really enjoying planning the menus from the ingredients we receive,” says Raspberry. “This week we received shrimp and catfish, and I’m already making plans for dinner grits, made with celery, onion, and cheese.”
Raspberry says his love of cooking began more than 40 years ago when he was very young watching his mother and grandmother cook.
“I was seven or eight years old, and I had watched them enough to imitate what they were doing,” he says. “Soon, they felt comfortable leaving me in the kitchen to cook.”
He says he developed his specialties in cooking purple cabbage and making crab cakes early on.
“My family would eat steamed crabs on a Friday night, and they would leave all the claws,” said Raspberry. “Saturday morning, I would get up early and pick all of the claw meat and then make crab cakes for everyone.”
Raspberry’s crab cake recipe has since transformed through his experiences working in some of the area’s top restaurants over the last 20 years.
Raspberry says his transition from the restaurant world to the Community Center is an evolution in his career that lands in giving back in a high-profile environment.“It’s more gratifying to cook for a not-paying customer and give back to people, Raspberry says. “Especially to those in need.”
Raspberry says he hopes to reinforce St. Michaels Community Center’s role serving at the heart of the community and looks forward to establishing a culinary workforce training program for Chesapeake College and other students.
“I’m looking forward to working with our youth not only as a teaching chef but as a mentor to help prepare them for life,” says Raspberry.
Raspberry will soon be relocating to the Eastern Shore from his current home in Harford County and says he enjoys music as much as he enjoys cooking.
“Sean’s experience, knowledge, and skills as an Executive Chef make him an outstanding choice to lead our programs,” said SMCC Advisory Board President Langley Shook. “Our Advisory Board is dedicated to growing our culinary programs to include cooking classes and workforce training, for example, and Chef Sean is the right person to lead us into the future.
“My wife Karen and I enjoyed the Chef’s Southwestern Chicken Enchilada and salad last night for dinner,” said Shook. “The man can cook! And we’ll soon be back for more!”
Shook says SMCC is planning a major renovation of its Railroad Avenue building to transform the old lumber warehouse into a modern, efficient facility that includes space for culinary training and programming.
The St. Michaels Community Center’s mission is to serve, empower, and connect the community, with year-round programs and activities. Donations to SMCC and proceeds from its Treasure Cove Thrift Shop on Railroad Ave. in St. Michaels help the nonprofit provide year-round programs, services, and community events for residents of St. Michaels and the Bay Hundred area. The Community Café menu and more information are at stmichaelscc.org.